How You Can Influence Stakeholders for Water Safety Legislation to Prevent Drownings
During the cold winter months, you may not think about going in the water much, but that doesn’t mean your water safety efforts and education should stop.
Drowning is a public health crisis and an economic problem that will not change unless more water safety policies and legislation are put into effect throughout our communities. Through the 2020 CDC WISWARS Cost of Injury Module, drownings (both fatal and nonfatal) cost the U.S. Economy $53.53 billion per year.
We are Not Powerless When Addressing the Tragedies of Drowning
Advocating for more water safety legislation and drowning prevention efforts in our local and state governments is essential to help change the number of drownings across the U.S.
Drowning has a startling ripple effect, which can have a lifetime effect on the victim’s family, friends, and community members. However, many people may not publicly advocate for water safety legislation because they might not know where to start.
To make things easier for those who want to advocate for water safety action and those interested in improving how their community prevents drowning incidents and other aquatic injuries, here are some tips that can be used as a guide.
1. Look at Your Local and State Level Water Safety Legislation Laws
Before approaching community members with water safety legislation, educating yourself is critical. Become familiar with the water safety issues around you and learn more about water safety education by implementing the 5 Layers of Protection.
Educating yourself and those around you about water safety is a lifelong endeavor, so stay up to date with the latest research and evidence-based drowning prevention strategies through your state’s water safety legislation.
All states have different laws, codes, and regulations around public health and information on pools, hot tubs, and splash pads, so use the following resources below to read about local and state-level water safety legislation initiatives that are currently in effect:
- International Swimming Pool & Spa Code
- The Model Aquatic Health Code
- US National Water Safety Action Plan
- CDC State-Based Healthy Swimming Information
- CDC State & Territorial Health Department Websites
- 15 U.S. Code § 8003 – Federal Swimming Pool and Spa Drain Cover Standard
2. How to Advocate for Water Safety Legislation to Policy Makers
By learning about the latest laws, codes, and regulations, you will be able to become more active in your community to make a difference. Working your way up is a great way to start advocating for water safety legislation efforts.
Attending local government meetings to discuss community issues like fencing ordinances to provide barriers for homes with pools and spas or recommending pool and spa covers to homeowners with water features can help reduce aquatic-related incidents. Always advocate for all five layers of protection, as one water safety strategy may not be enough to save a life.
When you create lasting relationships with your local officials by regularly participating in community meetings, you provide the necessary information to make positive changes for your community, city, and even state.
Without the support of engaged and dedicated water safety advocates, reducing the number of drownings wouldn’t be possible. Without those to share and advocate for water safety, U.S. Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) wouldn’t have been able to become a Water Safety Champion and rally to support the reauthorization of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB Act).
Other ways you can help advocate for water safety include:
- Becoming a Water Safety Champion
- Participating in a Life Jacket Loaner Station Program
- Reading and sharing the Pool Safely Campaign
- Joining or starting your own purpose-driven Aquatics Coalition
3. Empower Your Community to Help Prevent Drowning with Water Safety Legislation
When it comes to the health and safety of children, empowering your community to rally against drowning and aquatic injuries is as simple as ‘gimmie 5’:
- Installing barriers & alarms to help prevent children and unauthorized adults from accessing water unsupervised.
- Close, constant, and capable supervision anytime children are in or around water.
- Learning water competency and basic swim skills.
- Wear life jackets appropriately, especially around open water.
- Learning emergency preparation skills like CPR and fast action to call 911.
Each of these 5 Layers must work together, so teaching members of your community significantly impacts those around you.
Make access to water safety education simple and easy to access. Follow the NDPA’s social feeds for social media posts to share or access your Resource Kit after becoming a Water Safety Champion. Always be open to sharing resources to spread drowning prevention awareness to your friends, family, and community.
It Takes a Village to Advocate for Water Safety Legislation
With water safety legislation, we can make a difference in drowning prevention, but it takes more than one person to create change for the greater good. Drowning prevention is more than educating parents about water safety.
By becoming more aware of the dangers water can present to our communities and utilizing the best water safety strategies, we can make a difference in preventing future drowning and aquatic injuries.
To join the fight for more water safety legislation for drowning prevention in our communities, visit NDPA.org/support-ndpa/.